It’s like the time I worked as a photographer for Sears, and I heard more than one mother firmly say to a cranky child, “Smile or I’ll spank you.” Were it so easy to pass a law (read Esther 1:21-22). We laugh. And we should. But in essence we do the same thing. “I’m the pastor so you have to do it my way.” Back in the days of Nooksack, one of the young people transitioned from those years of being in the youth group to a young adult. She took on a variety of roles in the early years, attempting to get involved in leadership. She used to get so frustrated behind the scenes because she didn’t understand why people didn’t fall in line when she had an idea, or wanted to do something a different way. She ended up quitting everything because she could not wait, but wanted respect and authority right now. You live as an honorable person, and the honor will come, but its up to others to recognize it. There are even situations when its right to demand honor: “I am the parent so that is the way it is.” But even then, the parent must be honorable so that a deeper respect will develop.
There may be time when people will honor for your position, but to live as an honorable person is superior. Strangers honor me all the time at funerals/weddings for no other reason than because of my position, they don’t know my character, they don’t know the first thing about me other than a role, yet I have been asked to sit at the head table, offer a prayer, listen to a story, asked my advice. I try to live as an honorable person because being honored for a title is not enough. I could be a “Mr. Hyde” dressed up in a suit for all they knew. The summer I worked in Sears as the photographer, I put on slacks, shirt and tie, and all the mother’s called me sir. That same summer I worked for Sally’s father in his Boat Center, washing the boats that were for sale and the occasional customers that wanted their boats detailed. More than one wealthy boatowner referred to me as “boy”. “Hey Boy, you missed a spot.” I learned something about honor that Summer. I tried to be the same person in both settings when I was “boy” in the morning and “sir” in the afternoon. You know if you are living with integrity, and that is far more valuable than demanding honor.
One person defines honor this way: “Honor is personal integrity. It means you have integrated your principles into your character, and that is who you are. A person who has personal honor has conscientiously determined the standards by which s/he will live, and proceeds to carry them out, without fail, regardless of difficulty and in the face of opposition. Please note that it is not enough to "have" standards. In order to have personal honor, one lives those principles, acts upon them, exercises them.” I sort of agree with that definition, but as a Christian I would add that the standards we choose to live by are not of our own creation, but rather doing our best to honor God and live by His standards. A lot of wise advice has been given regarding honor:
“Do not repeat anything you will not sign your name to.” -- anonymous
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” ~James D. Miles
“My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.” -- anonymous. “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” ~Will Rogers
“Live so that your friends can defend you but never have to.” ~Arnold H. Glasow
There is a great reversal in the book of Esther, the man that shows us the wrong way to gain honor is the same man that demonstrates how to honor others. The king undoubtedly has a nudge from God to honor Mordecai. Jump to Esther 6:1-14.
6:1-3 “That night the king could not sleep” (Esther 6:1). The king honors Mordecai, yet he is prompted to do so because of a sleepless night. The name of God is not mentioned in Esther, yet undoubtedly God’s fingerprints are all over the story. The king is wrestless in the night – anyone have a wrestles night this week? I know people who are prompted to pray when they cannot sleep. For about 4-5 years almost every night I could not sleep and I would get up in the night and study, it was no use. For the king, this sleepless night was at the bidding of God. The king could not sleep, so he ordered the official records be sent to him. And as he read, he was reminded of a noble act of Mordecai who had exposed a plot to kill the king. The plot Mordecai uncovered is found in Esther 2:21-23. The king wanted to know if Mordecai had been honored… and you can read the rest of the story in Esther 6: Haman, the conspirator, thinking the king is talking about honoring himself, advices the king a fitting way to honor a man, and instead of himself, in the great reversal of circumstances, the king instructs Haman to honor Mordecai with a royal robe and a processional through the streets on a horse.
Be a person of honor.
1) Do that which is right even if it goes unrecognized… Mordecai was obviously willing to not be recognized. It was probably 5-6 or more years between the plot he exposed that saved the king and recognition for his act. When you serve others, recognition sometime never goes noticed, or appears to not be noticed. Don’t seek it. Don’t look for a reward. If you act for the reward then you are a bounty hunter looking for the glory of how good you are; do that which is right whether it is recognized or not. Some people thrive at doing things behind the scenes. That’s good. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t get jealous of others.
2) know that Right will win… The great reversal in the book of Esther is very dramatic. In fact, when you read the full story, you find out that the very gallows Haman constructs to destroy Mordecai, is the very same gallows later used to hang Haman. Seldom do we experience such a dramatic reversal. Yet the principle is still true that when you serve the Lord Jesus Christ with a sincere heart and do that which is right, right will win in the end. After all, you have to live with yourself you know. Mordecai and Esther, through-out the book, faithfully plod on, not knowing the outcome, but remaining faithful to doing that which is right, that which is honorable. Why do we get jealous of others when it seems others advance so much faster than us, or get a promotion that we thought we deserved, or are honored in a way that should have been us. Right will win, even if your contributions are not recognized by others. Do that which is right. Be faithful, be honorable, because it is the right thing to do. How hard that is when you trust somebody and they stab you in the back, the temptation is to get even. But do that which is right. Don’t look to promote yourself. That’s what the king did in the first part of this scripture. Do that which is right because that is what is honorable and that is what makes this world a better place. That is what is most God honoring.
3) A lesson from the King, who saw fit to honor Mordecai: look for those to be honored. The Bible says to honor those who deserve honors. The king was prompted by God with a sleepless night to read the old records, and that’s ok, but lets do one step better and make it a part of our patterns to look for reasons to honor others. It many not take the form of a royal robe and a parade, it may be as simple as a thank-you to let somebody know that you noticed. One of my favorite sayings comes from Eyor, the stuffed donkey in Winny the Pooh, “Thanks for noticing.”
Look around. Not every honor has to be splashy, but notice those who act nobly, those who are honorable, and honor them in a fitting way, a word of thanks, some of you are awesome by writing cards, sometimes I wish I had that gift, sometimes a public recognition, whatever it is, honor those who deserve to be honored.
4) For some of you, the hardest lesson is demonstrated by Mordecai: allow yourself to be honored. Most people I know, at least in this church, do not want to be put on a horse and paraded around Sumas…ok, I can understand that, but if somebody says thank you, don’t dismiss them. When somebody recognizes something you have done, don’t just say “oh, it was nothing,” “Not a big deal.” Somebody saw what you did, and you may take yourself for granted, you may not understand, but even if what you did is entirely because of gifts God has given you, circumstances in which you had no control, say thankyou. Let yourself be honored. From Mordecai’s perspective, he probably did nothing heroic…he just happen to be in in the right place at the right time. Yet he accepts the honor given him. I can only imagine that Mordecai turns around and gives credit to God, and that seems good and proper, yet it is Mordecai that allows a royal robe to be put on him and a processional on a noble animal… a recognition.
Be a person of honor. It’s God’s way to build a supportive community of faith in which people are recognizing each other, in which admirable actions are appreciated. The bottom line is that it is God that is honored. Because so much of what I do is more public in nature than many people, I get more than my fair share of compliments. I’ve had to learn to say thank you and not apologize for my disappointment in details or explain how much better it could have been. You have your gifts from God, I have mine, and it is only because of the Lord’s gifting that I can do anything at all, and not what I have done. And so I am honored to help, and when I say thank you to somebody for expressing appreciation for a part I had, my thank you includes a thanks to the Lord for allowing me the privilege of making a difference. Be a person of honor, do that which is right even when you are not recognized, look for others that deserve honor, accept kindnesses given to you when others honor you. Be a person of honor, for that will honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.